DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet has been clinically proven to reduce blood pressure in two weeks in people who follow it. It is not only known to help manage blood pressure, but it is also designed for weight loss programs, helping to prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
Who should follow a DASH diet?
In fact, a DASH diet plan can be part of any healthy eating plan. Not only will it help reduce blood pressure, but it will also offer additional benefits for heart health, including reducing LDL cholesterol and inflammation.
How does the DASH food plan work?
The diet consists of low sodium foods and a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, known to help lower blood pressure. The diet is high in fibre, which helps lower blood pressure and eliminate extra pounds, which in turn helps lower blood pressure.
What should you eat as part of a DASH diet?
- Cereals such as whole wheat, brown rice, barley, oats and quinoa are full of nutrients such as protein, B vitamins and trace elements, fibre and antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce the risk of several diseases. However, processed cereals lack most nutrients and should be avoided.
- Include fat-free or low-fat milk, yoghurt, Greek yoghurt, paneer rather than high-fat options in your diet. For those who are lactose intolerant, lactose-free milk and dairy products are an option.
- Nuts such as almonds, nuts, pistachios, etc., beans, dals and seeds such as sunflower seeds, melon seeds, etc. are part of a healthy DASH diet. They are rich in dietary fibre protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals such as zinc and magnesium, etc. Although nuts contain healthy fats, it would be wise to consume them in limited quantities as they are high in calories. Also, avoid salted or honey-roasted nuts for their high sodium and sugar content.
- Eat lean meat, eggs, poultry and fish in moderation rather than meats high in saturated fats. Processed meats such as bacon, ham, sausages, salami, etc. contain a significant amount of sodium, which means that the intake is restricted. Occasional consumption of red meat is permitted.
- Fruits and vegetables are naturally rich in potassium, which plays an important role in lowering blood pressure. If you don’t like fruits and vegetables, change them gradually. Add an extra fruit or vegetable in the day in addition to what you currently eat. Prefer whole fruit to fruit juices. Unsweetened dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries, dried figs, etc. are good travel choices. Make sure there is a vegetable at every meal.
- The diet should be low in saturated fats and total fats. A diet high in saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Fats are important for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and help strengthen the immune system. The use of oils such as olive oil, rice bran oil and mustard oil should be encouraged at every meal and trans fats, commonly found in processed and fried foods, should be avoided.
To make this diet work even better, here are some additional tips:-
- Reducing alcohol consumption can help lower blood pressure. Therefore, alcohol consumption must be controlled.
- Aerobic exercise associated with the DASH diet lowers blood pressure more quickly.
- Read food labels to choose low-sodium products.
- Stress can raise blood pressure even if the diet is healthy. This is why stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, etc. help control blood pressure.
- Poor sleep increases blood pressure. Thus, 7 to 8 hours of deep sleep will help control blood pressure.
- If you are a smoker, quitting will help you lower your blood pressure.
- Take your medication as prescribed.
- Limit your salt intake to 1 teaspoon per day.
Changing lifestyles is an effort. It is a long-term commitment that must be made to be healthy. Smaller changes will yield faster results than radical changes made in one fell swoop and the loss of engagement along the way. Before you embark on the DASH diet, consult a nutritionist who can help you develop an individual program.
Café Nutrition and its weight loss centers can help you not only follow the DASH diet, but also lose weight in Mumbai.
Arati Shah is an expert nutritionist who runs Café Nutrition. With a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and a post-diploma in sports science and nutrition from S.N.D.T. Juhu, she also guides weight loss in Mumbai by formulating the right nutrition plan and dash diet with the same efficiency. She leads the nutrition team in Mumbai and is personally interested in every Café Nutrition client. In addition, her weight loss programs are easy to follow as she strives to change our usual eating habits.